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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



September 29
06:55 2021

Professional Development


RPS podcast helps agents explore how they can change the way they sell insurance

By Christopher W. Cook

Imagine working at an insurance agency today without all the modern technology available. Searching through file cabinets for documents. Saving files to discs and printing them out. Receiving messages via fax machine. Ironically, I still use file cabinets at home and save important files to CDs. What can I say? I’m old school.

Anyhoo, insurance agency operations sure have changed over the past few decades. And the concept of changing insurance serves as a great segue into our next insurance podcast.

The Risk Placement Services (RPS) podcast, Change Insurance, debuted in June 2020. A veteran in the insurance podcast scene, Joey Giangola, e-commerce marketing director for RPS, serves as the show’s host, amongst other duties.

“My mission since day one at RPS was to start a podcast,” Giangola says. “It was something that I was sort of itching to get back into, and when the pandemic started, it definitely wasn’t the determining factor, but it was a motivating factor to make sure that we were able to communicate with clients in new ways during that time.”

RPS realized that its client audience of independent agents and brokers absorbed information in a variety of formats, which is also why the podcast is recorded and available in both audio and video.

While Giangola handles most of the show’s production on the back end, he has assistance from team members who seek out upcoming guests.

“[When it comes to] putting the podcast together, I’ll edit all the episodes, but we do collaborate as a team to define new guests—people who have popped up across the industry, people who we think we should talk to,” Giangola says.

The show debuts a new episode every Wednesday and can be found on the major podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast and iHeart Radio.

The show

To live out the podcast’s title, Giangola says, “We really like to focus on people who are trying to change the industry, as we are at RPS trying to change the way that insurance is being bought and sold. We try to deliver value to our agents by sharing how other people are changing insurance in their agency or whatever corner of the industry that they happen to exist in. Sometimes it’s big, sometimes it’s small. It can be something subtle and you might not even realize it.”

Each episode begins with an introduction read by the host: “Insurance sounds different when you start to change it. Come listen for yourself. This is the RPS podcast dedicated to helping you make the impossible possible.”

From there, “I try to keep things pretty conversational,” Giangola says. “We typically start out with what might seem like a nonsensical question, but then we transition that over to insurance. We then talk about that guest’s personal expertise.

“[Guests] always ask me, ‘what’s the topic?’ and I say, ‘your general awesome-ness usually works,’ because a lot of people don’t really have the confidence that they’re doing something interesting. We give them the confidence, and we go through that discovery process of what it is that they’re doing that’s different, whether they realize it or not.

“We’ll wrap it up with some more open-ended questions,” he continues. “There’s a series of questions we will close out each episode with.”

These questions include:

  • What’s something that you hope you’ll never forget?
  • What is one thing that you still have yet to learn?
  • If I were to hand you a magic wand to reshape, change, alter, speed up, improve really any area of insurance that you saw fit, what is that thing?

“If somebody can walk away from each episode with something new to take into their agency or their part of the industry, I think that would feel like a success,” Giangola says. “It might be big, it might be small, but just that one thing that they walk away with directly and say, ‘yeah, I need to give that a shot,’ or ‘I might tweak it this way and see how this works for me.’

“We’re not overloading them with too much information, but still making it accessible enough that they can have a new idea every week.”

Episodes tend to last between 20 and 30 minutes.

“We are excited that we are able to deliver on the opportunity to push our message out to our clients and help push the industry forward,” Giangola adds.


The guests on Change Insurance have included both RPS thought leaders and outside voices, to provide a larger industry perspective. Professionals from agencies, brokerages, industry associations and even trade magazine team members and other podcast hosts have been part of the show.

“We try to mix it up,” Giangola says. “We definitely want to have outside voices to share and connect those people to the people we do business with and vice versa.”

Here is a small sample of what you might be missing out on if you haven’t listened:

Episode 47: How the Right Vision Will Make You a Better Digital Agency. In this episode, released March 3, 2021, guest Quincy Branch, president and CEO of Branch Benefits Consultants (the July 2017 Rough Notes Agency of the Month), discussed how during the pandemic his agency focused on the process inefficiencies it was dealing with.

“We [weren’t] really embracing technology the way that we should have been,” Branch said. “Our technology platforms … we had the Cadillac, but we were driving it like it was a Pinto.

“Our theme for this year as an agency—we’re calling it our GAP year. This is our ‘growth, automation, and process’ year, so those are the things that we’re focusing on. We really wanted to make sure that our processes were buttoned up, so all three of our departments went through this major undertaking of just revamping all our processes.

“We wanted to make sure that we did not just roll out a product or a platform,” he continued. “We really wanted to make sure it made sense. We really wanted to make sure that it spoke to the why of what we were doing.

“The great Bruce Lee said, ‘Be like water.’ We have to realize, as the insurance industry, to always be like water. To always realize that clients change. Clients’ needs change. And if we truly are here to serve the client, then our business model has to be adaptable.”

Episode 52: Can Your Culture Handle People Who Aren’t at Their Best? Released on April 7, 2021, this episode featured guest Bradley Flowers, founder of Portal Insurance and co-host of The Insurance Guys podcast, who discussed the importance of a positive culture and empathizing with clients.

“When I [worked for a] captive, because of a lot of situations that were my fault and out of my control, I sort of had the reputation that I was difficult to work for,” Flowers said. “When I started Portal, not only because company culture is very important to not only the success of a business but the happiness of your employees, I also wanted to prove people wrong—that I was not difficult to work for. So I really focused on culture and hiring the right people.

“I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but we’ve gotten to a really good place now where we’re hiring a lot of great people. We focus on culture first and tell people that ‘the fastest way to get shown the door is to not play nice in the sandbox with everybody else.’ If there’s an issue, we need to address it. Just focusing heavily on the culture has made a massive difference in our agency.

“The ethos of our culture is we understand that we are not the highlight of [our clients’] day,” he continued. “There’s no person who wakes up, rubs their hands together and says, ‘Oh boy, I get to deal with my insurance agent today.’

“We understand that we’re not necessarily getting people at their best. If anything, we’re getting them at their worst. And when you can recognize that and empathize with people, I think it goes a long way from a customer experience standpoint.”

Episode 55: How to Advise Your Way to a Proactive Customer Experience. Guest Billie Jo Galle, vice president of marketing and business development at TRICOR Insurance (the October 2021 Rough Notes Agency of the Month), discussed improving customer service experiences in an episode released on April 28, 2021.

“The customer really owns this process; we don’t,” Galle said. “They’re going to tell you if they like it or they don’t like it by sticking with you and becoming a lifelong relationship and building that relationship, or in their mind they’re going to move on. They do have options and you will, for lack of better words, churn and burn people in the door and out the door if you’re not providing some of that experience they’re looking for.

“If somebody can walk away from each episode with something new to take into their agency or their part of the industry, I think that would feel like a success.”

—Joey Giangola
E-Commerce Marketing Director
Risk Placement Services

“If you get the renewal process correct in the way that a customer wants it using your data, you see a lot of wins out of that.

“We have built up a proprietary risk assessment that we go through,” she continued. “It’s a series of questions. It gives a client the feeling that you are truly trying to know them. And it’s not just once. You’re doing it every year because you’re teaching them that your life changes; things in your life change.”

Episode 65: Why You Need the Extra Information to Make a Big Difference. In its July 6, 2021 episode, Lisa Duncan, executive vice president at RPS, discussed the importance of available data and asking your clients questions.

“I think the data and information that’s online that isn’t necessarily provided by the client is still really helpful,” Duncan said. “I find myself spending a lot of time on [building department] websites or county (web)sites. I know it sounds really archaic to do it, but it can be a lot of information that your clients can’t provide, or you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

“There’s a lot of information out there that can help us tell a better story. At RPS, we talk about data and the ability to have insights on our clients and our carrier partners. And data is the key part of that insight ecosystem.

“Ask questions,” she continued. “The most success I’ve had with clients, whether those clients be my retail agents or just clients—the actual insurance buyer, is really understanding … their concerns. What’s keeping them up at night? I feel like when you start trying to fill in the blanks on something (instead of capturing client insight) is when you can muck up the process,” she concluded.

For more information:

Change Insurance podcast

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